Goldfish Care 101: Choosing, Treating and Care

Keeping a goldfish as your pet is a simple and easy way to get started as an aquarist. These colorful fish are lifetime pets and their lifespan can go for as long as decades depending on the level of maintenance and care. 

Goldfish care starts with choosing the right type of goldfish. After that, quarantine and treat the goldfish before introducing it into the tank. Goldfish can be delicate hence you should be careful with the kind of conditions you subject them to. Feed goldfish 2-3 times a day on an omnivorous diet.

Goldfish are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They are also affordable, and their small nature gives you the choice of raising them in a bowl or an aquatic tank when you’re purchasing several goldfish.

Goldfish Care 101: Choosing, Treating and Care

How to Take Care of a Goldfish

Taking care of goldfish starts by identifying the type you want to keep in your fish tank. This gives you a head-start on what you need to do to efficiently take care of your preferred breed. 

Proper tank setup and cleanliness are also essential factors to consider. Other tips for proper maintenance of your goldfish include how to feed it, how to quarantine a goldfish, and how to introduce it into a tank.

Steps Considerations
Choose goldfishHabitat, breed, swimming patterns, scales, fins, quality of water, and packaging.
Quarantine and treatmentQuarantine and administer medication to avoid infection of other fishes.
Tank setup (habitat)Size, material, location, temperature, and test kit.
Introduction to aquariumWater temperature – put the bag with the goldfish in the aquarium then release the fish after 30-45.

1. How to a choose goldfish

Choosing the right goldfish might be challenging with over a hundred varieties. There are a couple of things that you should consider when selecting a suitable goldfish:

  • Check the habitat

Before purchasing your goldfish, you need to determine whether you plan to keep it in a tank, pond, or bowl. This will allow you to know which type of goldfish to purchase and the number you intend to start with. While most people prefer a goldfish tank, you can take care of goldfish in a bowl as well.

Measure two gallons for every inch of a goldfish. To get the accurate gallons of water you need in the goldfish habitat, add up the length of the number of goldfish you intend to have, then double it. 

If you have cats in the house, they will likely get tempered by the fish and might eat them up or even topple over the whole fish tank. For that reason, consider buying a cat proof fish tank. Such tanks won’t give the cats an opportunity to message them up.

  • Settle for one breed of goldfish

You have to decide whether you want to settle for a fancy or a common goldfish. It is recommended not to mix these two breeds in the same habitat. This is because regular or feeder fish are relatively faster than fancy goldfish. It can be a disadvantage to the fancy fish as it may starve.

  • Study swimming patterns

Do not go for fish that move around more frantically than the rest as this signifies the goldfish is stressed out. In addition, don’t go for a fish that settles at the bottom.

Avoid fish rubbing against a surface in the tank or biting its fins. These types of goldfish have disorders brought about by various factors in the tank such as boredom. Go for a fish that swims steadily and is not tilted.

  • Make sure all the scales are there and are clear

A goldfish that does not have all scales is a sign of stress since goldfish rub on surfaces when stressed out making them lose scales.

  • Study the fins of the goldfish

The fins of a goldfish should be clear and free from bumps. The anal and pectoral fins should be the same size on both sides. The dorsal fin should be straight and free from growth.

  • Check the water where the goldfish are kept

Only get goldfish kept in a transparent odorless tank. Cloudy-looking water in tanks with a particular odor indicates previous medicine administration.

  • Ensure your goldfish is packed well where it can swim freely, and there is room for oxygen

Go for fish whose living conditions are already favorable to avoid transferring distressed fish to your home. If the fish are kept in low oxygen levels and left with minimal swimming space, they may have developed distress or other disorders that’ll manifest as you start caring for them at your place, leading to additional costs.

2. Goldfish quarantine and treatment

If you notice one fish having symptoms of a particular disorder, separating it into another tank is essential. This tank is referred to as an isolation tank. From this tank, you’ll be able to administer medication as well as monitor progress. It will also reduce the risk of infecting the other fish in the tank. 

Other reasons why you should quarantine your goldfish include:

  • The medication will not destroy live plants in the tank.
  • The unhealthy fish will recover peacefully without being pushed around by other strong fish.
  • Smaller quarantine tanks will ensure you use less medicine.
  • You will ensure that the medication does not destroy the biological filters.

When setting up your goldfish tank, make sure you have an extra one for the isolation of the goldfish since they may get sick in new conditions.

Goldfish tank setup

To set up a goldfish tank, you should consider the following aspects:

  • Tank Size

The first step of setting up your tank is determining the proper size according to the number of goldfish you want to keep. Go for a tank with the most extensive water capacity you can afford. Smaller tanks or bowls require frequent cleaning and water change as they accumulate ammonia waste products much more quickly. On the other hand, bigger tanks are better as the waste products dilute in the water. Add 2 goldfish per 10-gallon tank for the best results.

  • Material

Aquarium tanks come in two types, that is, glass and acrylic. Choose what works for you best. If the glass aquarium is your choice, be sure to confirm it is not leaking. You can test for leakage by filling it with water and letting it remain like that overnight. Invest in plants and decoration that goes well with your preferred type of aquarium tank. Acrylic is the lighter of the two materials.

  • Location

Choose a leveled area to avoid creating stress on the aquarium bottom. Also, the corner of a room is the ideal position to set up your tank. This is because the wall is strongest at this point, making it safe from being knocked down.

  • Temperature

Setting the right temperature before putting your goldfish in the tank is essential. Get yourself a good heater that maintains the water temperature and reduces fluctuation. 

Different breeds of goldfish prefer different water temperatures. Fancy fish, for example, do well in warm water. Some goldfish sickness can be treated by raising the water temperature.

  • Get a test kit

Another essential process of setting up your tank is checking on water quality. Tap water contains chlorine which might be hazardous to your goldfish. Make sure you de-chlorinate tank water before introducing your goldfish.

You also need to check the pH, nitrate, nitrite, and kH levels. You have to do this every day when the tank is new. You can test these parameters less often as time goes by, but keep testing for pH as goldfish waste accumulates fast.

3. Introduce goldfish to the aquarium

After setting up the aquarium, the last process is introducing your goldfish to its new home. To do this, you need to let the bag with your goldfish settle in the water tank without releasing the fish yet. Do this for 30-45 minutes. By this time, the water temperature in the bag and the tank will be the same. Release your goldfish by opening the bag while it is still in tank water.

How to feed goldfish

Feed your goldfish 2-3 times daily. Ensure that you mix the diet intake every day to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Avoid overfeeding your goldfish as it can lead to intestinal problems. Goldfish can eat plants as well as live animals. You should supplement both types of feeds alternately to maintain a health fish. 

Goldfish care and maintenance

For proper care of your goldfish, sanitation is vital. Frequent tank cleaning is dependent on the size of your fish tank. The smaller the tank, the more often you clean. Do not use cleaning agents or harsh chemicals to clean goldfish tanks.

Adequate plant cover is another crucial factor in goldfish care. Being prey animals, goldfish require many covers to reduce stress and improve activities. Go for live or imitation plants and make sure any accessory used to create the sea ambiance is suitable for your fish intake. 

When choosing plants for your goldfish, make sure they’re not poisonous. Most plants for betta fish also do well with goldfish although you need to ask the shop where you bought the fish if a certain plant is good for the specific goldfish you bought.


Goldfish are magnificent creatures that can be beside you as your pets for years but only if you take into consideration all the tips discussed above. Take care of your goldfish with the same magnitude used to take care of a dog or cat. This will give you a healthy-looking colorful goldfish.


Computer Science House: The Goldfish Sanctuary: Advanced Care.

Computer Science House: The Goldfish Sanctuary: Proper Goldfish Care.

University of Idaho: Goldfish.

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